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A Huge Thank You To All Veterans

I hate to admit this, but I didn’t think much about Veterans Day when I was younger. I didn’t know many people who served in the armed forces, so it didn’t mean much to me. I’m glad to say the day means much more to me now, and I’m happy that I have an outlet now to show how grateful I am to all of the men and women who fight for our freedom (now and in the past).

I love history (it was my minor in college), so I always appreciated what soldiers did for our country (and other countries). In my opinion, millions of Americans lost their lives to make the world a better place. With that said, I personally never had an interest in serving in the military. I don’t think I would be able to do it even if I was forced into duty. I’m extremely thankful there are others who are willing to do what I’m not brave enough to do on my own.

This is a very random story, but it fits into what I’m talking about. I was watching Forrest Gump the other day on TV. There’s a part where Forrest is with his platoon in Vietnam, and Lieutenant Dan stops his men and tells them to get down and be quite. I know it’s only a movie, but it suddenly hit me that real people actually lived moments like that. I couldn’t imagine hunching down on the side of the road wondering where the bullets might come from. We’re not talking blanks, we’re not talking paint balls, we’re talking about real bullets. It’s a true kill or be killed mentality. I know that I’m not built for that, but there are actually people who volunteer to put their life on the line to ensure that I can have a better life of my own. I owe a massive debt of gratitude to these soldiers.

Everyone who serves in the armed forces is a hero to me, but then there are the story of superheros. I’m not talking about Spider-Man…I’m talking about real life superheroes. Take Jason Dunham for example. I’d never heard him until I was at the gym today. A television station was doing a story about the dedication of a new destroyer called the U.S.S. Jason Dunham. They explained who he was: Dunham was the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in Iraq, and the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. He earned the honor by throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of the other soldiers around him. Dunham was seriously injured by the explosion and he lost his life eight days later. If that’s not a superhero…I don’t know what is. 

I also want to take a moment to mention my great friend Al Genatone. Al was a linebacker at Washington State University. After his playing career, he coached at Western Washington University and the University of Idaho. Before the 2009 season, Al quit coaching and joined the Army (he enrolled in officer training). He was sent overseas for the first time a few weeks ago. He’s serving a one-year tour in Afghanistan. He has a wife and two kids. Al walked away from a career in football (the sports he loves) and joined the military to serve our country. I’m proud to call him my friend.

I’m probably being repetative, but I don’t care. Thank you to all of the men and women who served our country in the past, and serve our country right now. I feel like my words can’t even show how grateful I am. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I’d love to hear stories about the heroes that you know. I’d also love to hear from any members of the armed forces, past or present. Please feel free to leave a comment below, get in touch with me on Twitter, connect with me on Facebook, or email me at tim@timlewissports.com.

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